A time for unselfishness and love

While normal community interactions are on hold right now, we don’t need to feel aloof and unfulfilled. We can let God’s love inspire in us a spirit of unselfishness, a love for humanity, and joy.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
Loading the player...

This is a challenging time for people throughout the world. Many of the activities that have formed the fabric of our lives have abruptly halted. How do we respond to all these simultaneous changes? It can seem all too easy to feel deprived, angry, frustrated, or depressed.

But there is an alternative. We can strive to express unselfishness and love. I’ve found it helpful to consider that even though it can seem hard to see this amid the chaos, God, who is divine Love, is here. This infinite Love is the antidote to fear, frustration, and anger.

Although it involved a very different situation, the sudden shift in how we’re all living our lives right now has reminded me of a time when my own personal situation involved a great shift in the way I was living – and taught me a lot about selflessness. I had been a teacher, and after our daughter was born, my life as I had known it screeched to a halt. Instead of managing a classroom, I was dealing with piles of laundry and a crying baby. I loved my daughter dearly but became depressed with the makeup of my new life.

With the help of a Christian Science practitioner, I began to learn that I had a choice. If I were willing to let go of self-pity and instead see things from God’s perspective, it would free me to be more joyful and feel more at peace. God wants only good for each of His children. In fact, Christian Science explains that we are actually the very expression of God’s goodness and love. That’s our true, spiritual identity.

As I turned to God in prayer to better understand ideas such as these, I began to realize that God-given joy and purpose can never be taken from us. This isn’t about ignoring unhappy feelings or just asking God to help us feel better about our lives. It’s about glimpsing the spiritual reality that as God’s children, reflecting unlimited divine goodness, we can actually never be cut off from good.

This kind of profound change in the way we think about ourselves and our circumstances can have an equally profound effect. In this case, my life turned around. I became happier and eventually entered graduate school, which opened amazing vistas for me and my family.

When we’re feeling jostled by events out of our control, we can pray to feel God’s loving presence, which dissipates fear, anxiety, frustration, and sadness. God is always with us and everyone, sustaining and guiding each of us. We can trust God to lead us step by step through challenges of all kinds. It might seem reasonable to negatively and complainingly react to a difficult situation, but when we turn to God for inspiration instead, we find blessings and progress in unexpected ways.

Recently I’ve been reminded of something Mary Baker Eddy, a devout follower of Christ Jesus and the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote. At several points in her life, she either chose or was thrust into isolation. She describes one such period as a quiet, inspired time of deep prayer and spiritual exploration – “sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 109).

We may be alone at this time, but we don’t have to be lonely or self-pitying because God, infinite Love itself, is always with us. We can let this unity with God nurture in us a love for humanity, a spirit of unselfishness and joy. Although we can’t have normal physical connections at the moment, we can connect with the world in spiritual, God-inspired love. And as we do, we will feel more of the peace and joy of our closeness to God.

As the Christian Science practitioner lovingly helped me see, we do have a choice to make. We can let an inward-facing mindset take over our thinking, or we can choose to turn our thought outward in a mental embrace of our fellow men and women. This can be a time of great spiritual growth, inspiration, and selflessness. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares” (Science and Health, p. 574). Let’s choose wisely!

Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the coronavirus. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.